"Main Street Vegan" is the 11th book by Victoria Moran, a best-selling author, holistic life coach and accomplished public speaker (she has appeared on "Oprah" twice). We were fortunate enough to attend last week's New York launch of Ms. Moran’s latest book, a good read that tackles topics ranging from the benefits of a plant-based diet – she has maintained a 60 pound weight loss by maintaining a vegan diet for more than 20 years – to buying cruelty-free clothes and cosmetics. On this latter point she recounts a personal anecdote.

"For my seventeenth Christmas, my father gave me a fur and leather coat, which I wore even after I stopped eating meat," she opens her chapter on fashion. She goes on to describe how, after slipping on ice and falling into a pile of dog excrement ("enough to fertilize a county") she had the coat cleaned but took it straight to Goodwill. "I'd received a sign from the universe: 'You're a vegetarian with a fur coat. That’s crap."

Ms. Moran isn't a preacher, and she understands the allure of luxury fashion products. But she is very aware of the cruelty involved in the use of animal-based materials. When speaking of fur, she remarks that 45 million animals are killed each year "by gassing, suffocation, or electrocution (through the mouth or anus so as not to sully the pelt with blood.)" She highlights, too, the cruelty involved in wool, leather and down production, noting the excruciating pain these animals endure before being turned into products for human consumption.

Victoria Moran & her daughter Adair Moran 

LEFT: Victoria Moran (front) with her daughter Adair Moran.

In "Main Street Vegan" Ms. Moran provides practical alternatives for consumers who don't want to use animal-derived clothes, noting that consumers are no longer limited to canvas Keds and dress shoes that function like "foot-sized sweat lodges." She describes the dramatic changes in the fashion industry during the last few years – the emergence of companies such as Olsen Haus, which produces fashionable shoes from man-made materials, and Vaute Couture, which uses innovative materials to make warm and fashionable coats that are free of animal-based materials. Her selections range from the inexpensive shoes at Payless to the ultra-luxurious, providing alternatives for a wide range of consumers.

Victoria Moran is a pragmatist, advising her readers on food choices, cosmetics, fashion and practical tips on meal preparation. Finally, she urges her readers to visit animal sanctuaries so they can "get to know" the intelligent creatures that are used so carelessly.

The last chapters of her book are reminiscent of Richard Dawkins, the great scientist and Oxford don, who in his book "The Selfish Gene" writes: "The feeling that members of one's own species deserve special moral consideration is old and deep … . The only thing more strongly forbidden by our culture (than killing people) is eating people … . We enjoy eating members of other species, however … Many of us shrink from judicial execution of even the most horrible human criminals … while we kill members of other harmless species as a means of recreation and amusement."

Let's hope "Main Street Vegan" helps usher in a new age where animals are treated with the respect that should be accorded to intelligent, living beings.

For more about Victoria visit www.mainstreetvegan.net. You can get "Main Street Vegan" online at Barnes & Noble or at Amazon.com.